One to one with Russell Anderson, customer retention and partnerships director at Paragon

One to one with Russell Anderson, customer retention and partnerships director at Paragon

Strengthening broker relationships and enhancing its service offering are the big things on Russell Anderson’s plate right now.

Anderson, formerly head of Bank of Ireland’s head of sales and distribution, joined Paragon earlier this year in the newly created role of customer retention and partnerships director, where he works on improving the lender’s proposition and existing customer relationships.

He told Mortgage Solutions what his plans are for Paragon, where the key challenges are and opportunities are, and how he wants to strengthen its relationships with brokers.

Anna Sagar, reporter at Mortgage Solutions (AS): Having joined the lender recently, can you tell us about what attracted you to Paragon initially?

Russell Anderson, customer retention and partnerships director at Paragon (RA): I have been working in banking for 20 years and within the mortgages sector for the last 15. Within that time, I have developed a passion for mortgages and enjoy helping distribution partners, brokers, and customers with complex and or specialist mortgages.

Paragon is a leading specialist lender with an excellent brand in the industry so it was the correct fit to further my career in the specialist sector.

AS: Tell us about what the newly-created role of customer retention and partnerships director entail?

RA: The key aspect of my role is to enhance the service offering to our existing brokers and customers when they are looking to switch to a new rate and or borrow some additional funds.

Central to this is strengthening relationships with key distribution partners to support our retention growth plans.

AS: What are your near-term and long-term plans for Paragon?

RA: To lead and grow the successful existing customer team by bringing fresh and innovative ideas. I also plan to exceed our retention growth plan and support our brokers and customers through the existing customer journey, focusing on a simplified approach.

AS: Where are the biggest opportunities and challenges as specialist, complex buy-to-let lender and how will Paragon differentiate itself from other lenders?

RA: The existing customer journey for both product switch and further lending is a big opportunity for Paragon. This year we have made a number of changes in these areas that help to differentiate Paragon from other lenders while delivering high levels of service. In doing this we will enhance our new business offering and support the growth of our mortgage proposition.

An example of this was Paragon being amongst the first specialist lenders, if not the first, to extend the window in which borrowers with buy-to-let mortgages reaching maturity can switch products. With recent increases to the base rate of interest, and further rises anticipated, we’re providing the opportunity for borrowers to switch to a new product sooner rather than later, locking in a deal.

Looking at the challenges faced by Paragon, I’d say one of the most prevailing for us, and I imagine many companies, is the regulatory environment for landlords. The proposed changes to EPC ratings in the private rented sector present major challenges, if implemented, and landlords and lenders will need to work closely together to deliver.

AS: What are the biggest opportunities and challenges around customer retention? What will Paragon’s strategy be around this?

RA: Central to Paragon’s strategy is a simplified process to make things quicker and easier for both brokers and borrowers.

An example of this is the work we’ve done to streamline the further advance process. This involves assessing the information we already hold on a landlord customer and assigning them a tier based on this. Depending on a customer’s tier, we have the ability to then pre-validate them and offer a further advance without the need to go through the full application, removing the need for things like full physical valuations.

Another key pillar of our strategy is to strengthen relationships with brokers, who are a vital component of our customer retention work and wider growth plans. Putting our money where our mouth is, we recently announced that brokers introducing product switches to our other buy-to-let mortgages will receive an increased procuration fee.

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